As part of our continuing legal education requirements, lawyers are required to take classes in mental depression and substance abuse. I just completed mine and learned some really interesting things and thought it would make an informative blog that can help more than just other lawyers.
First, the national percentage of the population suffering from depression illnesses is 7-8%. Clinical depression is a serious and common disorder that attacks the mind and body at the same time. It can result in serious disturbance of work, social and bodily function. A depressive order is not a passing blue mood and people with depressive illnesses cannot just “pull themselves together” and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for months or years, and can lead to suicide.
Many people do not get help for depression for a variety of reasons. Some do not recognize the symptoms but others may be in denial. Some feel guilt, embarrassment or shame. Many view depression as having a negative social stigma or they feel it shows personal weakness. If you recognize someone that could be suffering from depression, reach out to them and encourage treatment. With psychotherapy and/or medication, treatment is effective in 80% of cases.
In addition to medical treatment, there are other strategies you can pursue to help increase your sense of well being:
- Excercise – regular exercise is nature’s own antidepressant because mood elevating endorphins are released
- Healthy Eating – eat fresh, whole foods and avoid alcohol as it is a depressant
- Stress Management Techniques – get quality rest and practice time management skills
- Relaxation Techniques – practice deep breathing exercises every day. Meditation is a great way to focus and relax. Yoga can be of benefit.
Most importantly, there are many resources available out there for people suffering from a depressive illness. Also remember that people with depression sometimes cannot recognize they need help so do not be afraid to reach out a helping hand if you suspect depression in someone. Here are some local organizations that can help:
- N.C. Depressive and Manic Depressive Association – 919-821-4343
- N.C. Alliance for the Mentally Ill – 919-851-0063
- N.C. Psychiatric Association – 919-851-0067
- N.C. Psychological Association – 919-872-1005